Specul8: Alison Goodman
With: Alison Goodman, author of the Dark Days Club trilogy, and New York Times bestsellers ‘EON’ and ‘EONA’.
By: Speculate volunteer Ophelia Meagher.
What draws you to fantasy and historical fiction, and why did you choose to mesh together the two genres?
Fantasy and historical fiction are two of my favourite genres — to read and to write — so slamming them together into a supernatural adventure series seemed like the natural thing to do!
The Lady Helen series touches on current social discourse regarding the #metoo movement. Was that intentional?
It was not overtly intentional – all of my books explore the idea of female and male power, and also the use and abuse of power.
Given the novel’s focus, what challenges did the narrative pose in terms of research and planning?
The Regency is a very well-loved and well-documented era, so I researched for eight months full-time before I started writing so that I had a good grip of its political and social milieus. There are websites devoted to historical errors in Regency novels, so I have tried my utmost to be historically accurate with my world building and the way the characters think and feel.
Did you find any limitations in writing the Regency England setting for the Lady Helen novels accurately?
I had to keep reminding myself about the slowness of the world at that time. There were, of course, no phones or even telegraph networks, so quick information exchange was not really possible. Travelling from one place to another was also a slow business. Of course that has an upside too for a writer — characters cannot just call someone to get them out of trouble!
What were the inspirations behind the fantastical elements of the novels: the Reclaimers, Deceivers and Lady Helen’s character?
The Deceivers — the demon-like creatures in the novels — feed on human yearnings and emotions such as bloodlust, creativity, sexual pleasure and pain. Lady Helen is a mix of a Georgette Heyer heroine, Lizzie Bennet from ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and Buffy in her demon-slaying mode.
Do you think the supernatural elements of the novels reflect aspects of contemporary society? If so, how?
The Regency brought a new civility into fashion, but beneath that veneer of courtesy the era was exceptionally violent and cruel. The Deceivers embody that split – they appear human, but inside they are demonic creatures that feed on human energy.
As a female author of fantasy novels, what do you keep, reject and seek to change within the genre?
What one keeps, rejects and tries to change within a genre is a whole essay in itself, but I can say my novels are about young women finding agency and that immediately does away with a lot of clichés and stereotypes.
How might the series have developed if you’d written a male protagonist, which is common in fantasy and uncommon in Regency era historical fiction? Would it have worked?
The Dark Days Club series is so intrinsically female in its themes and concerns that I cannot even envisage a male protagonist. It just wouldn’t work.
Alison is also presenting a workshop at Writers Victoria on Sunday 29 April. Speculate ticket-holders can book to take part in Building Your Novel's Spine: Structure for Speculative Fiction at WV member prices.